I've made many transitions thus far in my teaching career: from an adult grad-student to a first-year teacher; from working with eager and anxious freshman, who are enjoyably transparent, to aloof and stressed juniors, who feel the load of more responsibilities and begin seeing their futures as tangible outcomes. There was the transition from a low socio-economic, rural school where I consistently questioned, “How can I get them to care?” to a wealthy, urban and high-pressure school where I struggle with getting them to care just a little less.
This summer, however, has been one of the biggest transitions yet: from the front-lines of an often faltering public education system to the hallways and conference rooms of one of the best places to work. I have transitioned from a place where supplies are limited and purchased out-of-pocket to being issued a laptop on entry. From indigestion inducing 20-minute working brunches (what else can you eat at 10 am?) to hour-long, subsidized feasts of every variety conveniently located a short walk away in every direction. From a school campus bursting at the seams with buses and students looking for a place to park to a work campus where long-leaf pines outnumber the substantial staff and fawns make regular appearances outside the tinted, glass windows.
I've only been here a short while, and the depth and wonder of this place — it’s resources, values, people, and policies — are just now beginning to make sense.
I am treated like a professional — like a real person who has something valuable to contribute! — every minute of every day. The other lucky summer-program teachers and I are focal points of every meeting, many of which are scheduled just to talk to us. Our opinions are not suffocated by bureaucracy or administration; they are cherished. Our colleagues seem eager to glimpse into our mental classrooms and encourage us to be curious and creative.
Despite being fortunate enough to be employed at one of the best high schools in the state, this has been a jarring transition. Education, from the top down and from the ground up, has a way of humbling teachers. Because there is so much at stake for our student’s futures, there are many voices to disseminate, and it is far too easy for educators to fall into a static, non-growth mindset. Because of the debates surrounding evaluations, tenure, pay, and so on, it’s easy to question professional value and worth.
For the first time in my career, here at SAS, I have asked myself a different question. How can I use the resources here at SAS Curriculum Pathways to contribute to my classroom, my department, my school, and my fellow educators?
This has been a transition without blinders and boundaries, and I can’t wait to see where it will take me and, more importantly, my students.